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By: Ade Adeleke
In a bid to return Nigeria to number one highest producer of cocoa from her current number four in the world, over eight thousand farmers from four states have been empowered to boost their annual outputs.
A specialised cocoa organization known as “Olakoko Project” in collaboration with the federal government have trained the farmers who are from Osun, Edo, Ogun and Ondo states on modern planting and processing of cocoa as well as distributing agric supplements to them.
SUNSHINE TRUTH reports that the farmers were empowered during the occasion of the 2019 farmers’ day celebration held at Igbara-Oke, Ifedore local government area of Ondo state.
Few decades ago, Nigeria was the highest producer of cocoa in the world but the rating dropped drastically to number six due to neglect of the sector by successive administrations, until few years ago when the federal government launched COCOA REBIRTH project.
The rating of Nigeria has however increased to number four in the world as a result of replaced ageing cocoa trees with modern high yielding trees.
Speaking on the efforts to boost cocoa production in the country, the Manager of Olakoko project, Mrs Mopelola Fabunmi said the over eight thousand empowered farmers were from selected seventeen local government areas of Ogun, Edo, Osun and Ondo states.
Fabunmi said, “You know Nigeria dropped to number six until two years ago that will become number four in the world, but our ultimate target is to return our country to number one in the world, that is why we are doing this training and empowering our cocoa farmers”.
In a remark, the National cocoa Desk officer at the federal ministry of agriculture, Mr Raphael Adebayo represented by a senior official of the ministry, Mr Olasimbo Olarinde, commended Olakoko project for complementing government’s efforts to increase the country’s revenue from the cash crop through massive empowerment of the farmers.
Some Stakeholders including Mr Kwame Osei from Ghana’s Rainforest Alliance, Mr Banji Akinbinu and Alhaji Hassan Nurani, called on government to reintroduce deployment of agric extension officers to farm settlements to educate farmers on how to apply chemical, harvest and preserve their cocoa beans.
Kwame Osei said “we must build the capacity of our farmers to enable them produce cocoa beans that will meet global requirements for chocolate companies”.
Two of the benefitting farmers,
Mr Owolowo Gbadebo from Ondo state and Mrs Maria Sunday from Edo state expressed appreciation to Olakoko project and called on government to reduce high prices of farm implements and provide basic amenities in the rural areas.
The Stakeholders are of the opinion that regular empowerment and training of cocoa farmers would surely assist Nigeria return to number one highest producer of cocoa beans in the world in no distance time.